SCOTLAND is blessed with around 50,000 listed buildings and has more than 600 designated conservation areas.

As a small country we punch well above our weight architecturally. Quite understandably this has led to a culture of protecting these buildings, preserving them in homage to their era.

However, we are now seeing a conflict between past and future - because many of these architectural gems simply cannot be made sustainable with existing technology.

This is particularly challenging in many of our tenement buildings which are home to huge numbers of Scots and are a hallmark feature of both the Glasgow and Edinburgh skylines.

While working from home, many people living in such homes were shocked to find the limitations on making them more energy-efficient. Cavity wall insulation is not possible. Ground source heat pumps are not possible. Double glazing is often not allowed, nor are solar panels. Options are incredibly limited.

I hope Scotland is on the verge of a golden era of further retrofitting innovation, or we face some incredibly difficult choices: leave our heritage buildings to belch out carbon as the rest of the country races toward Net Zero? Or ride roughshod over decades of architectural protection to achieve sustainability targets?

Attempts to retrofit homes within conservation areas are subject to myriad confusing rules. That has seen whole communities, such as the Stockbridge colonies in Edinburgh, request more clarity from councils on what they can and can’t do to make homes more sustainable.

Meanwhile, planning rules by City of Edinburgh Council state that solar panels within conservation areas “will not normally be permitted on any conspicuous elevations”. Technological limitations mean the use of ground or air source heat pumps is severely limited by a simple lack of space.

All of which means our collective preservation mindset is being tested like never before. Around 23% of all emissions are from our homes and workplaces, a significant contribution to greenhouse gases.

Nothing should stop the march towards greater sustainability, but we also have a clear duty to our incredible built environment heritage. So what can we do?

I’d love to see more grants and financial support from Government, councils, and universities to promote and support green innovators.

A retrofitting gold rush won’t just happen in Scotland, it will be across the UK, Europe and beyond so there could be decades of economic benefit for all of us if we are at the forefront of this.

To help that kind of progressive thinking we need a joined-up approach between government, local authorities, community and heritage groups and businesses to ensure positive outcomes.

We can’t bulldoze our way to a greener future – but the innovation we encourage, support and nurture today can protect both our past and our future.

Gareth Claase is the founder of Gecko Glazing, an Edinburgh-based firm producing innovative secondary glazing panes that can be installed to give single-glazed windows the effectiveness of double-glazing at a fraction of the cost.